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Australian PM denies Dalai Lama snub

Australian PM Kevin Rudd denies snubbing the Dalai Lama, who is in Australia on the second leg of a five-nation tour.
By HT Correspondent | AFP, Sydney
UPDATED ON JUN 11, 2008 03:58 PM IST

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Wednesday denied snubbing the Dalai Lama, who is in Australia on the second leg of a five-nation tour which has brought protests from Beijing.

Rudd told reporters accompanying him on a trip to Japan that he would "absolutely" have met the 72-year-old Buddhist monk if he had been in Australia.

"I've met the Dalai many times before. There's nothing remarkable in this," Rudd was quoted as saying by Australian Associated Press.

"I understand the acting prime minister and the foreign minister will (ensure) the Dalai is greeted with appropriate respect as a major religious leader in the world."

But the leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Bob Brown, urged Rudd to find time for talks with the Tibetan spiritual leader between his return to Australia on Sunday night and the Dalai Lama's departure on Monday.

Brown also called on Rudd a Mandarin-speaking former diplomat who seeks closer ties with China, Australia's biggest trading partner to consider boycotting the Beijing Olympic Games in August.

"He should refuse to attend the Beijing Olympic Games unless China enters into meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives," said Brown.

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard will also be out of the country and the Dalai Lama will be met by Immigration Minister Chris Evans, who will be acting prime minister, and by Foreign Minister Stephen Smith.

The Dalai Lama visited Britain last month, where he was met by Prime Minister Gordon Brown despite strong objections from Beijing, which portrays government meetings with the monk as interference in its internal affairs.

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